Scoring 56 on the MIPEX 100-point scale, immigrants in the United Kingdom enjoy more opportunities than obstacles in their integration, under halfway favourable policies. British integration policies score above the average EU country and like the Western European (EU15)/OECD country.
The United Kingdom’s approach to integration is classified by MIPEX as “Temporary Integration”, like France, Italy, Germany and the Netherlands. The United Kingdom has more developed policies than Austria, Denmark and Switzerland, which have a similar approach but go only halfway towards providing immigrants with equal opportunities.
Foreign citizens in the United Kingdom can benefit from access to basic rights and halfway favourable policies on equal opportunities, but they do not enjoy the long-term security to settle permanently, invest in integration and participate as full citizens. The British “Temporary Integration” approach encourages the public to see immigrants as equals but as foreigners. Internationally, the ‘Top Ten’ MIPEX countries treat immigrants as equals, neighbours and potential citizens, and invest in integration as a two-way process for society.
A country’s integration policies matter because the way that governments treat immigrants strongly influences how well immigrants and the public interact with and think of each other. Drawing on 130 independent scientific studies using MIPEX, integration policies emerge as one of the strongest factors shaping not only the public’s willingness to accept and interact with immigrants, but also immigrants’ own attitudes, sense of belonging, participation and even health in their new home country.
- Labour market mobility: halfway favourable: Non-EU residents' basic access to the labour market is favourable, as in most countries attracting migrant workers. Non-EU residents are generally treated the same as UK citizens, as the UK does not close off sectors of the economy to immigrants. However, weak targeted measures and limited support to access higher education for non-EU newcomers could be an obstacle to their integration into the labour force.
- Family reunification: slightly unfavourable: Family reunification remains a major obstacle for non-EU newcomers to the UK, which ranks second from the bottom among MIPEX countries. They face unfavourable, restrictive requirements and definitions of family. Family-reunited migrants do not enjoy a fully secure future.
- Education: slightly unfavourable: All non-EU citizen children have the implicit right to a free compulsory education, though additional fees and obstacles emerge for UK-schooled non-EU-citizen pupils pursuing vocational or higher education. Generally, newcomers benefit from some targeted support with their education.
- Health: slightly favourable: Migrants have slightly weak entitlements to free NHS care due to legal restrictions and administrative obstacles in the UK. The 2014 Immigration Law restricts migrants' access to free NHS hospital treatments and creates problems of discretion and documentation for all migrants. However, immigrants receive some kind of support to access health care (e.g., information, provision of interpreters).
- Political participation: halfway favourable: As part of the Commonwealth, the UK's traditionally inclusive voting rights allow ordinary resident Commonwealth citizens to vote in all UK elections. However, the UK's many immigrant and ethnic minority communities are not organised or consulted in order to address their needs in a coherent way.
- Permanent residence: halfway favourable: Eligible temporary residents could apply for permanent residence after 5 years with certain types of permit or 10 years with any type, including study permits. However, the categories of temporary residents eligible to become permanent residents are regularly changing in the UK and becoming slightly more restrictive.
- Access to nationality: slightly favourable: Immigrants and their children in the UK still benefit from the traditional eligibility rules, such as 5 years’ stay and permanent residence. However, the restrictive requirements on language and integration, together with the requirement to demonstrate “good character”, pose major obstacles and leave applicants with rather insecure access to naturalisation in the UK.
- Anti-discrimination: favourable: Discrimination is illegal on grounds of race, ethnicity, religion or nationality in all areas of life in the UK. Victims also benefit from some of the strongest equality bodies seen amongst MIPEX countries.